STARK: A Unified Framework for Strongly Coupled Simulation of Rigid and Deformable Bodies with Frictional Contact

José Antonio Fernández-Fernández, Ralph Lange, Stefan Laible, Kai O. Arras, Jan Bender
2024 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)

The use of simulation in robotics is increasingly widespread for the purpose of testing, synthetic data generation and skill learning. A relevant aspect of simulation for a variety of robot applications is physics-based simulation of robot-object interactions. This involves the challenge of accurately modeling and implementing different mechanical systems such as rigid and deformable bodies as well as their interactions via constraints, contact or friction. Most state-of-the-art physics engines commonly used in robotics either cannot couple deformable and rigid bodies in the same framework, lack important systems such as cloth or shells, have stability issues in complex friction-dominated setups or cannot robustly prevent penetrations. In this paper, we propose a framework for strongly coupled simulation of rigid and deformable bodies with focus on usability, stability, robustness and easy access to state-of-the-art deformation and frictional contact models. Our system uses the Finite Element Method (FEM) to model deformable solids, the Incremental Potential Contact (IPC) approach for frictional contact and a robust second order optimizer to ensure stable and penetration-free solutions to tight tolerances. It is a general purpose framework, not tied to a particular use case such as grasping or learning, it is written in C++ and comes with a Python interface. We demonstrate our system’s ability to reproduce complex real-world experiments where a mobile vacuum robot interacts with a towel on different floor types and towel geometries. Our system is able to reproduce 100% of the qualitative outcomes observed in the laboratory environment. The simulation pipeline, named Stark (the German word for strong, as in strong coupling) is made open-source.

» Show BibTeX

author={Fernández-Fernández, José Antonio and Lange, Ralph and Laible, Stefan and Arras, Kai O. and Bender, Jan},
booktitle={2024 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)},
title={STARK: A Unified Framework for Strongly Coupled Simulation of Rigid and Deformable Bodies with Frictional Contact},

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